COMMENTARY | In the top of the fourth inning in a game between the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, Andrelton Simmons hammered a ball to deep center. Per usual, center fielder Carlos Gomez had a beat on it and made a spectacular catch at the wall, but he fell awkwardly and sprained his left shoulder.
Fortunately, the injury only kept him out for a few games and it shouldn't cost Gomez a chance at reaching his first All-Star Game. But not only does the 27-year-old deserve to play in the Midsummer Classic -- he deserves to start in it, and there are five reasons why.
1. His defense
When voting, fans are almost never aware of a player's defensive ability and typically zone in on average, home runs and RBIs. But you'd be hard pressed to find a better defensive outfielder than Gomez, who has only one error and a defensive WAR of 2.1, by far the highest among outfielders in all of baseball.
Speaking of WAR, we already made a case for Gomez's defense in terms of advanced metrics, but his overall WAR is also tops in baseball according to ESPN.com. He is worth nearly five wins, so with the Brewers already 14 games below .500, it's scary to fathom how much they would miss Gomez being on the roster, which they recently experienced.
3. Improved average, plate discipline
Prior to the 2013 season, Gomez never had a batting average above .260 and his career average is only .255. After a career year in 2012, Gomez is having another one this season and has bumped his average up to .314. He's swinging at better pitches and has carried over his production from a season ago by hitting 12 HRs and driving in 37 runs.
4. His competition
The crop of American League outfielders to choose from this season is sub-par, to say the least, and Gomez would easily be starting quality in the AL. As far as the National League goes, Gomez has plenty of competition, but he's second among NL outfielders in batting average, tied for seventh in home runs and tenth in RBIs. When you also factor in his defense, Gomez has been a top three outfielder on the Senior Circuit this season.
5. Speed, speed, speed
A huge reason for Gomez's world class defense is his speed, but that's not the only way he impacts a game with his wheels. Gomez consistently swipes bases and is tied for fourth in the NL with 15 steals -- he has only been caught three times. Pitchers always have to hold Gomez accountable and he can get inside their heads with his antics on the basepaths.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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